New music: Jazz round-up – February 2016
Featuring Chimurenga Renaissance and David S Ware
Chimurenga Renaissance – Girlz with Gunz EP (Glitterbeat) ●●●●
Chimurenga Renaissance are Tendai Maraire of experimental hip-hop crew Shabazz Palaces and guitarist Hussein Kalonji. Exploring their respective Zimbabwean and Congolese heritages, Maraire and Kalonji blend spaced-out electronics and leftfield R&B with elements of rumba, soukouss, Chimurenga and mbira. Heady, soulful and politicised, Girlz with Gunz opens up new frontiers in hip-hop's Afrodelic space programme.
David S Ware – Birth of a Being [Expanded] (Aum Fidelity) ●●●●●
David S Ware, who died in 2012, was arguably the greatest American tenor saxophonist of his generation, a spiritually inclined avant-gardist extending the traditions of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler. Formed in the early 1970s, Apogee was his trio with pianist Cooper-Moore and drummer Marc Edwards. For the 1977 sessions collected here, the group brought its collective approach to improvisation to themes composed by Ware. The results are extraordinary, from the rousing gospel of 'Prayer' to the wilder shores of the two-part 'A Primary Piece'. Ware's thick tone packs a real emotional punch, while his lines range from gorgeous lyricism to head-spinning abstraction. Cooper-Moore, who would remain a regular collaborator, is a volcanic presence, as is the under-sung Edwards who combines the freedom of a Sunny Murray with the propulsion of a Tony Williams. The previously unreleased material on disc two is equally great: an essential free jazz release.
Fire! – She Sleeps, She Sleeps (Rune Grammofon) ●●●●
Following the orchestral prog-jazz of 2014's Enter, Fire! has reverted to the core trio of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin, with guest spots from Australian underground hero Oren Ambarchi and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Leo Svensson Sander. Fire! has always been more of a psych-rock group than a jazz outfit, with Gustafsson's saxophones a conduit for the sludgiest sonics this side of stoner rock legends Sleep. Perhaps fittingly, She Sleeps, She Sleeps opens with the tolling of Werliin's lap steel guitar, a bright, ringing chord that summons a brooding bass riff from Berthling, over which Gustafsson lays long, low tones. Run through a Leslie rotating speaker, Ambarchi's guitar shimmers and buzzes on the title track, its uneasy presence drawing hideous shrieks from Gustafsson, before he settles into a more meditative mode. Fire! are at their best in this minimalist mode, working with texture and space to create a hypnotic set.
Various – Soul Sok Séga: Séga Sounds from Mauritius 1973–79 (Strut) ●●●●
Strut continues its excavation of Africa's psychedelic 70s with Soul Sok Séga, an intriguing compilation of funkified séga from Mauritius. A product of the island’s multicultural history, modern séga blends diverse African influences with Western jazz and pop. Highlights of this unusual and hugely enjoyable set include the cheeky creole pop of Claudio's 'Bhaï Aboo', the writhing synths and tightly coiled Meters funk of Ti L'Afrique's 'Soul Sock Séga' and the traditional hand drum rhythms of Marie Josée and Roger Clency's 'La Vie En Badinage'.
Luka Productions – Mali Kadi (Sahel Sounds) ●●●●
With its autotune vocals, trap beats and bombastic synths, Mali Kadi, by Bamako producer and rapper Luka, might seem like the antithesis of rootsy world music. In truth, it's infused in West African tradition, with distorted baliphone samples dancing around intricate décalé rhythms. Ranging from melodic pop tunes to hyperspeed club bangers, Mali Kadi is a fantastically exciting introduction to the Bamako hip-hop scene.
TisDass – Yamedan (Sahel Sounds) ●●●●
TisDass' Yamedan is a highlight of the Sahel Sounds winter batch that also includes the raw Mauritanian trance music of Nouakchott Wedding Songs. A vehicle for the songwriting of former Group Bombino bassist Kildjate Moussa Albadé, TisDass might not radically reinvent the Tuareg rock sound, but they bring a driving, supple groove to the hook-laden likes of 'Emshin' and 'Ayatma', and some dazzling, almost psychedelic guitar work on the mesmeric 'Itwitassan'. Max Braun's unfussy production captures the band's kinetic energy, while leaving space for the dreamier textures.